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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Honey and Clover Vol. 1 by Umino Chica 
8th-Mar-2008 11:59 pm
Umino, Chika. Honey and Clover. Vol. 1. Trans. Akemi Wegmuller. San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2008.
          Summary: Tokyo art college students Takamoto, Morita, Mayama, and Hagumi partake of each others' company.
          Comments: I first read a bit of Umino Chica's debut professional work Honey and Clover back circa 2003 when she first blipped onto my radar screen for having won the Kodansha Manga Award. My expectations were high, given all the hype that was circulating around her name at the time, and I was, perhaps inevitably, disappointed. Due to the sudden run on the title, my usual online manga source was temporarily out of stock, and I ended up with an intermediate volume of the series which failed utterly to captivate me. In fact, it failed to leave much of an impression at all, either way. But I was willing to give Umino the benefit of the doubt, since I was, after all, trying to get a handle on her magnum opus midstream.
          Alas, revisiting this series some half a decade later has done nothing to change my opinion. Sure, the characters, especially Morita, are quirky, and their environment is finely described. (Hagu, a moé-ish heroine in a manga for girls and women, on the other hand, is downright disturbing.) But, really, I feel like I missed nothing back then by not starting at the beginning, even though the English-language edition has been translated and adapted by Akemi Wegmuller, who has a tendency to markedly improve that which she touches, and that is never a good sign when it comes to manga in general. The best thing going here in this otherwise undistinguished series, as far as I'm concerned, is the second-rate Sakai Kunie art style that Umino inexplicably cultivates. (I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Honey and Clover got picked up by and ran in Young YOU for a time, and Sakai's all-time greatest work was serialized there also in the 90s... Hey VIZ, how about adding Hanazakari no Niwa to the SB lineup?! I know you're reading. :P )
          Notes: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Shuueisha in 2000
          Rating: 4.5/10 - Sometimes these sorts of upmarket manga work beautifully, and sometimes they don't. This one...doesn't. In spades.
10th-Mar-2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I thought I was the only one on earth who thought this manga was shockingly crappy.
13th-Mar-2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
I thought Honey and Clover gets better around vol. 5...I really didn't like the first two volumes.

I am also happy to find that I am not the only one who thinks almost toddler-like college student Hagu is disturbing. Most of the responses I've got was "so what? She's cute!"
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